I’m writing this moments after I’ve finished drawing my faux comic book cover “Dreams of Things” #50. I don’t think I’ve ever written about a piece this close to finishing it. I want to try it out while everything is still fresh in my mind. Or at least the coloring is. That is the part I just finished. I did the drawing and inking a few weeks ago.

I wasn’t a hundred percent positive where I was going with this one when I started it or even right before I colored it. It’s a drawing of a woman who is standing and smiling at us with seven lines behind her. That’s really not a lot to go on. Sure she has lines and marks all over her body but I wasn’t really positive what they all meant. They weren’t my usual “Painted Lady” type markings so that direction was closed off to me. Even after inking it I didn’t know how I was going to pull it all together. It sat for a while for just that reason.

The first part of this that I colored was the background. Often when doing a painting (or a marker drawing) we are taught to do the background first as a matter of technique. If you do the foreground first and then the background you will often have to go back into the foreground to change things. After all the foreground is the most important part and if there is a conflict with the background the foreground wins. But it’s often tough to do the background first since it’s usually the most boring part and you want to get on with the interesting stuff. But in this case it was easy since I still had no idea how to handle the foreground color.

Since the background had such simple shapes and design I decided to go with a three colors (two shades of each) and some textures. Light blue, purple, and an orange/yellow were my choices. I use the side of a brush marker to lay down the darker of the color pairs in a flowing cloud-like texture. I went from thick to thin really quickly with the side of the brush as I moved it across the page. I was looking to give the shape some texture and life. After the darker color is down I fill in the rest of the shape with the lighter color. It’s a technique I use in bits off background a lot but here it’s even more dominant so I took my time with it to get the colors and shapes how I wanted them.

It was a good choice to color the background first because that helped me decide what I was going to do with the main figure. I decided to color her like a Mod Man. Mod Man is one of the “Characters” that I’ve been drawing for years. I put the word character in quotes because Mod Man is really a decorative character. He’s never been in a story nor have I written any words for him. He’s something I draw. Usually Mod Man is a simple drawing made up of very few lines and colored in primary colors. Red, blue, and yellow are the colors of Mod Man. He also looks a bit like a Mondrian or other modern painting. I thought I’d copy his color scheme for this piece so that mean using the primary colors.

I started with blue and I started on the bottom. Oddly I knew I wanted her thighs to be red but I didn’t want to start with red. I have no idea why. So I colored her floating bikini bottom blue and then proceeded to work my way up her body coloring in the blue areas. That’s a matter of figuring out a pattern. I knew I was going to be using the three primary colors and the key is to try and not have too much of one color in one area. Red shouldn’t be next to red and the same for the other two colors. I quickly realized I was going to need a fourth color to make a pattern happen and I decided on a second blue. But that came later.

After I figured out where my first blue was going the rest of the pattern was easy. I put the red down second and that all worked out fine. As I was finishing up the yellow I realized that I hadn’t decided how to color her face. I was originally going to color her face a flesh color as if she was wearing a body suit but then I decided to color her face yellow. I only had a few strokes of yellow down when I changed my mind and made her face half yellow and half red. I think that balances the color better. The second blue, which is close in value to the first blue, went down next. I think that second blue is just light enough to act as an almost highlight and not make the first blue too dominant. I could have gone lighter with it but that might have been too much contrast.

All along I had the idea that I was going to color her hair orange but then I didn’t think that would work. There was already a ton of red in the piece and the orange might blend in too much. So I went with green. I think that was a good choice and I should have seen it all along. It’s a pretty obvious choice for contrast.

After the green I added a little shading along the edges. Not too much. I wasn’t going for a modeled look but I like the edges of the color to sit back in space a little. I use a color called “Light Grape” for this but I also had to add in some other dark reds and blues because light grape doesn’t work so well on the dense red and blue that I chose. I even dropped a little shading on the “Seams” between colors for some visual interest.

The very last thing I did was to put a pink textured halo around her. I wanted a little separation between her and the background so I doubled down on the texture. Since I’m putting transparent color on top of color there is no clear distinction between the halo and the background and that’s just what I wanted. It tied things together for me.

So there you go. I finished a piece and then wrote about it right away. Now it seems like forever ago that I finished it. That’s a little weird.